Students, Faculty and Staff at USM Institutions are Active and Engaged as Election Day 2022 Approaches
Voter Registration and a Variety of Civic Engagement Activities Have Marked the Fall Semester
Baltimore, Md. (Nov. 3, 2022) – As the fall semester heads toward Election Day 2022, University System of Maryland (USM) institutions have been working to enhance voter registration and participation on campus and in their surrounding communities. Student, faculty and staff engagement remains strong heading into the mid-term election, led by a variety of civic events and activities that include candidate information sessions, voter registration drives, and guidance regarding voting regulations and official ballot drop off boxes.
Spearheading these activities at the system level is the USM Civic Education and Civic Engagement Student Leaders’ Committee, which has met every two weeks since September to share information regarding voter registration efforts on campuses. More recently, the group has convened to discuss strategies to ensure that every student has a plan to vote. Provosts at each USM institution, working with information and recommendations provided by the USM Office of Academic Affairs and Student Life, are supporting these efforts.
The recommendation provided to USM institutions includes formal guidance for university leaders to directly support students and staff in casting a ballot, and recommendations that the American Council on Education (ACE) outlined this fall on how colleges can properly support 2022 campaign activities on campus and help students.
“Our USM universities don’t just value civic engagement—they teach it; they model it; they cultivate it,” said USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman. “And that starts with encouraging participation in the most basic requirement of our democracy: voting. I’m proud that our institutions are routinely acknowledged among the country’s best when it comes to the number of students who register to vote and who actually make their voices heard on Election Day.”
A visible sign of the USM’s legacy in public policy and civic engagement includes both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly. In the House of Delegates, 49 of the 141 members graduated from (or attended) a USM institution, and 21 of the 47 members of the Senate graduated from (or attended) a USM institution.
Enthusiasm for the 2022 mid-term election is evident at institutions throughout the USM.
“It is so gratifying to see the hard work of students through the USM to sustain participation in the mid-term election,” said Nancy Shapiro, USM Associate Vice Chancellor for Education and Outreach. “Student leaders continue to partner with staff at their campuses to facilitate voter registration and participation. Of course, all this work continues the momentum established by the 2017USM Board of Regents Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Workgroup, and truly reflects our systemwide commitment to keeping our democracy strong.”
In late August, Washington Monthly named several USM schools to its list of “Best Colleges for Student Voting.” Those universities are Towson University; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; University of Baltimore; and Frostburg State.
A wide variety of voting and civic engagement activities are underway across the system:
The Salisbury University (SU) “SUVotes” effort is the university’s official voter registration and engagement initiative, seeking to foster a culture of engaged voters among students, faculty, and staff. SUVotes Ambassadors have been responsible for engaging the campus community to increase voter turnout. The SU TurboVote tool has allowed community members to register, request a mail-in ballot, change party affiliation, and receive reminders about the election. SU’s Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE) has also helped SU students “Flock to the Polls” during Maryland and Wicomico County’s early voting period. Volunteer staff and faculty provided transportation to and from Wicomico County’s early voting center utilizing SU fleet vehicles.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) on Sept. 29 hosted its Candidates in Our Backyard forum to generate meaningful conversation among neighbors and candidates to foster deeper civic connections and involvement. The planning team invited 18 student and community organizations to participate and welcomed several local legislative and council candidates. In addition, several offices and organizations across UMBC collaborated with officials from the state and county boards of election to locate an official ballot drop off box on campus for the first time. Now any Maryland voter can cast their vote by depositing a completed mail ballot in the box, which is near the information desk at The Commons lobby.
Towson University (TU) continues to receive recognition for its civic responsibility, with a student voter registration rate above 85 percent. The university offers a comprehensive online guide to registration and voting options, with information from that site and social media channels regarding such programming as the “Party to the Polls” event (Oct. 27) at the University Union with voter resources, food, and a scavenger hunt. The Office of Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, led by new director Romy Hübler, has partnered with other campus organizations for these events, including a gathering to watch voter returns on Election Day (Nov. 8). After several successful years in civic engagement work at UMBC, Hübler recently joined TU. Her personal commitment to civic engagement dates to her childhood in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Coppin State University (CSU) has held pop-up registration events throughout the 2022 calendar year, including one that coincided with Chancellor Perman’s campus visit on May 4. On Oct. 19, gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore visited the campus and heard from Dr. Yi-Ping Huang about the university’s new Center for Inclusive Excellence. CSU does not endorse or oppose any candidate for public office but welcomes discussion of important issues. President Anthony Jenkins and his cabinet received a visit from U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen to discuss key priorities for the university and federal efforts to support historically black institutions in Maryland.
The flagship University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) campus election engagement effort for 2022, known as TerpsVote, had information tables at several events at the start of the fall semester to assist students with the registration process, including the Homecoming Carnival. Graphics on the scoreboard at the Terrapins’ recent Homecoming football game against Northwestern reminded fans to make their plans to vote. TerpsVote worked with the Department of Resident Life to create a document serving as proof of residency for students living on campus. The UMD Libraries have played a significant role, too, co-sponsoring with TerpsVote a gubernatorial debate watch party and other events. An ongoing UMCP Libraries virtual exhibit, “Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America,” highlights how women, Black Americans, young people and others have fought for the right to vote. On Oct. 26, the university dedicated its new School of Public Policy building, a facility that will inspire future civic engagement and discussion, joined by Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson and Maryland Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones.
At Frostburg State University (FSU), the Office of Civic Engagement has presented regular guidance on social media channels about voter registration. On the evening of Sat., April 30, the university held a Western Maryland Gubernatorial Candidates Forum in the Lane University Center. FSU held the live-streamed event as a partnership with two nearby two-year institutions, Allegany College of Maryland and Garrett College. Those two institutions and Hagerstown Community College joined FSU as partners for a forum on Oct. 24 with candidates for Maryland Congressional District 6.
On several occasions in October, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) has held voter registration activities in the campus rotunda. The UMES Office of Student Engagement leads these events and is scheduling election events in November for the campus to become familiar with candidate profiles and voting records. A final event before Election Day was a campus-wide Zoom seminar on Nov. 4, titled "Register to Vote" and designed as a guide on ballot items, checking one's voter status, and what's needed to cast one's vote.
At the University of Baltimore (UBalt), Vote Everywhere Ambassadors have been conducting voter outreach and engagement since orientation for incoming students and through National Voter’s Registration Day. The Student Engagement Fair has been offering classroom visits throughout October. This activity culminates in an election day bash on Nov. 8 (3-to-6 p.m.) in UBalt's Student Center second floor café. More information on UBalt Votes can be found here.
Bowie State University (BSU) provides a thorough online domain, “Your Voice Matters,” for its community in advance of the election. It guides users to important tools, including instructions for mail-in ballots and polling place locations.
An archive of USM election and civic engagement activity from the 2020 election and earlier can be found here.
The USM comprises 12 institutions: Bowie State University; Coppin State University; Frostburg State University; Salisbury University; Towson University; the University of Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; and the University of Maryland Global Campus. The USM also includes three regional centers—the Universities at Shady Grove, the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, and the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland—at which USM universities offer upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses.
USM institutions and programs are among the nation's best in quality and value according to several national rankings. To learn more about the University System of Maryland, visit www.usmd.edu. To learn about the new USM Strategic Plan, “Vision 2030: From Excellence to Preeminence,” visit https://www.usmd.edu/vision2030/.
Contact: Mike Lurie